Maybe it is the coming holidays or the many Hallmark holiday movies that I have been watching, but I’ve been thinking a lot about family. My kids are on the edge of the ‘nest’ and starting to spread their wings. I hope and pray that they have learned all that they need to make it on their own. I started reflecting on what I have learned over the last 20 years. Here it is:
1. Pizza or mac and cheese always works for a sleepover.
2. Words can heal completely or hurt deeply.
3. Kids pay more attention to what I do rather than what I say.
4. I know how to deal with 9pm requests for wax museum costumes, spirit day attire or nut-free, gluten-free treats for 25.
5. I know how to sign permission slips while at a stop light.
6. I know how to kiss away boo-boos and hug away fears.
7. Prayers and manners count.
8. I learned to never regret putting family before work. One of my favorite people, Dawn Springer, once said that when it comes to the important stuff, going into the office is just another day at work, but being with family is making a memory.
9. You can never have too many safety pins or too much duct tape.
10. When kids learn how to pay their own way (for things they want), it pays off.
11. I can hide lots of healthy stuff in a smoothie and it still tastes good.
12. Kale is not one of those things.
13. Kids are never too old to have a good story read to them.
14. Encouraging my children to learn another language and play a musical instrument was a good thing.
15. Hooked on Phonics was not.
16. Grades and test scores (good OR bad) do not represent who my child is; they only show a miniscule picture of what they have done.
17. A child’s ‘lasts’ are as momentous as a baby’s ‘firsts’.
18. It takes 10 sincere praises to take the sting out of 1 harsh criticism.
19. Asking what a child did at school that day reveals nothing; asking a child what made them laugh that day reveals everything.
20. My most important job title will always be wife and mother.
21. Raising kids is not for sissies (but, as my husband always said, having only two kids allows for man-to-man coverage vs. zone defense).
22. If you send a boy to camp for seven days where showering is optional, he will return smelly.
23. I learned that ‘differently abled’ is not just a clever term, it is TRUTH.
24. Seeing your child hurting is excruciatingly painful.
25. My kids remember the teachers that built them up.
26. I know the pediatrician’s number, school attendance number and weather number by heart (My husband does not, but he can tell you who won the ’78 World Series).
26. When your kids confide in each other and have each other’s back-you’ve done something right. They get ‘family’.
What I am in the process of learning as my kids leave the nest:
1. To cherish those moments when the whole family is under one roof. It doesn’t happen often enough.
2. Traditions are just another word for memories.
3. It’s not my job to prevent my children from experiencing pain or hardship…it is my job to help them handle any situation with grace.
4. You are never too old to need your mom.
5. To find joy and purpose beyond motherhood, even though my heart aches mightily from missing my daughter.
6. That writing publicly is both cathartic and terrifying.
7. Having a dependable, loving spouse makes all the difference.
8. I don’t have to fill the empty nest, but I CAN redecorate it!